12th International Conference Code red, the planet is burning! Children’s rights to a healthy, safe and sustainable environment in the midst of a climate crisis?
FR / EN
5 and 6 maY 2022
1 day: CHF 80.- (student / Southern Hemisphere: CHF 60.-)
2 days: CHF 140.- (student / Southern Hemisphere: CHF 100.-)
Haute école pédagogique Valais (HEP-VS), St-Maurice & Brigue • Centre interfacultaire en droits de l’enfant (CIDE), Université de Genève (Site Valais) Sion • Haute École de Travail Social, HES-SO Valais//Wallis • Institut international des Droits de l’enfant (IDE), Sion • Service cantonal de la jeunesse, Valais • Terre des Hommes, Lausanne, Suisse
in collaboration with
Comité des droits de l’enfant aux Nations Unies (CDE)
It is impossible to ignore the alarming scientific conclusions of the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in August 2021. As fires were burning out of control on several continents, torrential rains had devastated entire communities, and persistent heat waves broke daily and monthly temperature records, the UN Secretary General simply stated that the report is a “code red for humanity”. The Report’s main takeaway is that even dramatic forceful proactive measures to reduce CO2 emissions will only at best mitigate a worsening situation, anything less opens the way for far more extreme weather events.
The loss of biodiversity, pollution, as well as climate change are significant interrelated contributors to the world experiencing political and economic instability, growing inequality, declining food and water security and increased threats to health and livelihoods.
Described as the “sixth mass extinction” by scientists, human activity (such as land use change, pollution, overexploitation, and invasive alien species) has increased the loss of biodiversity. These anthropogenic developments are not cost neutral for the enjoyment of human (and children’s) rights, which depend on thriving, biodiverse, healthy habitats and ecosystems. For example, environmental degradation has been described as one of “the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of present and future generations to enjoy the right to life”.
Children and young people have mobilized around the world, both in the North and the South, to require that governments and international organizations carry out the structural changes to avoid a catastrophic future for upcoming generations. While Greta Thunberg has become a household name and the public face of this movement, many thousands of children and young people activists have carried out school strikes and mass protests. These generational movements are present in Switzerland as well even though public events were necessarily dimmed by the ongoing coronavirus public health crisis.
Also of note is that children and young people have opened new legal fronts and have engaged in creative and promising strategic litigation, both on domestic (e.g., Canada, Australia, Mexico, The Netherlands, etc.) and supranational levels (e.g., fifteen children have filed a communication with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child against five States and a group of Portuguese children have submitted a very substantive case to the European Court of Human Rights).
Notwithstanding the fact that humanity is dealing with a “code red”, the organization of a conference on children’s rights in relation to climate crisis and degrading environment addresses key issues at the heart of the children’s rights global agenda, inter alia, the right to life, the right to a healthy and safe environment, children’s right to be heard, to participate in decision-making, and to access justice to further their cause, not to mention the right of children to have their best interests taken into account in climate policy decisions.
In addition, the conference is envisioned as an opportunity to bring together child rights specialists from academia and civil society, Swiss children and children from abroad who are part of the movement to tackle the climate crisis, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child working on General Comment 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change, as well as national and cantonal decision-makers who are engaged politically on these issues.
The conference aims to:
- hold a proactive interdisciplinary dialogue between stakeholders (children, advocates, professionals, politicians, academia) that mobilized in relation to child rights and the climate crisis
- highlight initiatives and good practices that support children and young people and concerned parties at local, national and international levels
- deepen the scientific and legal knowledge that will support strategies for evidence-based public policy
- clarify how children should be able to exercise their rights to information, participation, and access to justice to protect against environmental harm.
The conference also serves as an official consultation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child towards producing General Comment 26 on the children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change.
This conference is intended for policy makers and professionals working with and for children and young people (teachers, social workers, psychologists, doctors, mediators, any other professional concerned with children and the environment), as well as representatives of the academic and scientific community.
Presentations will take place in French (F) or English (E) and benefit from simultaneous interpretation in the two other languages.
2 Vignieri, S. (25 July 2014). Vanishing fauna. Science. 345 (6195): 392–412; IPBES (2018): The IPBES assessment report on land degradation and restoration; Montanarella, L., Scholes, R., and Brainich, A. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, Germany
3 UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 36, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/GC/36, para. 62 (2019)10 décembre 2021
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